May 3, beer fans. It's the beginning of the best and longest week of the year: the 10-day Madison Craft Beer Week. All over the city -- and into adjacent communities, for that matter -- bars and restaurants will be featuring the best that the brewing world has to offer.
Madison is having its own explosion of craft beery goodness, with three small, high-quality breweries opening in the last year and more to come. (Stay tuned on that subject.) But Madison Craft Beer Week is about the whole city, the nation's best breweries, and the fertile ground that the craft beer movement has found in Wisconsin. These are some of my highlighted entires in the massive MCBW program (with some corrections to the original post.)
Angelic Brewing Co.'s reunion party
This is a pretty cool event as far as cool events go, even if Shane Welch from Sixpoint won't be able to make it. But between Brooklyn's Sixpoint and our own Ale Asylum, Angelic turns out to have been something of a paterfamilias. Sixpoint tells me that there will be some on-tap treats and a giveaway or two; I imagine this will be a good time drinkin', and we're all pretty into that, aren't we? The Free House in Middleton has been mentioned before here; it's a good joint for this kind of party. (Friday, May 3, 9pm-12:30am)
Cask Ale Festival
Last year, this super-geeky event was held at Pooley's, which surprised me and just about everyone I talked to about it. Pooley's is great for hot dogs and wings, but a beer bar, it ain't. So this year, the MCBW organizers settled on...the East Side Club? You know what, you can see the Great Taste grounds from there, so I'm fine with it. This is a ticketed event; buy early. Casks are still being added to the site, but the list includes Bells Hopslam, an Alterra coffee-infused imperial version of 3Sheeps' Baaad Boy Black Wheat, and this year's Common Thread collaborative beer, a take on the biere de garde style. (Saturday, May 4, 1-4pm)
House of Brews tap takeover/Death Star Agave Ale release party
It's May the Fourth, and if your Twitter feed isn't filled with people seemingly discovering that pun for the first time, I don't know whether you're lucky, or not following enough Star Wars nerds. This will be a standard House of Brews tap takeover crossed with a release party, as the Death Star Agave Ale has been brewed in a pretty small batch specifically for this event and the unofficial National Star Wars Day. And at Tex Tubb's Taco Palace? Agave's a great fit. (Saturday, May 4, 6-10pm)
Goose Island at Drackenberg's Cigar Bar
I'm not a Drackenberg's regular, exactly, but I'd deal with a little seconhand for a shot at the 2008/2009/2011 vertical of Goose Island's coveted and delicious Bourbon County Brand Stout. The MCBW Guide promises other special releases throughout the evening, and if there's any chance of sours like Juliet or Lolita or Dominique, I'm down. (Monday, May 6, 5-9pm)
DESTIHL Brewing Meet & Greet
Speaking of sours...the DESTIHL tent at Great Taste last year was a special corner of heaven. The Saint Dekkera line of wild ales isn't promised to be at this Brasserie V-hosted event, but I'd bet that one might show up. DESTIHL does big, complicated beers; just look at their beer list and feel your eyes start to go googly. (Tuesday, May 7, 5:30-8:30pm)
Toppling Goliath Cask Night
If there is a welcome addition to the Madison craft beer scene, I couldn't think of a better example than Decorah, Iowa's Toppling Goliath. These folks are making hand deliveries of their beers to Madison store shelves, guys. Gotta love it. This event will feature the pseudoSue IPA via draft and gravity pour for comparison's sake, and the MCBW Guide indicates more details are forthcoming. I've had some great times at Alchemy for beer events like this; it can be a packed madhouse, but the vibe is awesome. (Wednesday, May 8, 8pm-midnight)
Beerology: Sour and Wild Ales
Okay, after reading all of this, I don't know how you won't already have had a number of sour beers once next Thursday rolls around. But let's say you're put off by the term "sour." The unceasing praise for sours from beer dorks like me finally wears you down, and you want to give it a go. This ticketed beer school at Craftsman Table and Tap in Middleton will give you the 411. Or the 101. It'll give you sour smarts, whatever. The Craftsman team was pretty jazzed about the sour pour at their O'So tap takeover, so I think this should be a fun time. Call 608-836-3988 to reserve your seat at the bar. (Thursday, May 9, 6-8pm)
And throughout Madison Craft Beer Week, you had better be sipping on a cool pour of Common Thread more or less every time you're out about town. See if you can't find a commemorative mug to buy; these were on offer last year for a very reasonable fee.
Check out a couple other great MCBW pre-caps from Chris Drosner, the Beer Baron of 77 Square, and Robin Shepard of Isthmus. I'll see you out there, fellow drinkers. As my grandpa used to say as a toast, here's lookin' up your old address.